Home » Vehicle Guides » Truck Guides » What Is A Flatbed Truck

What Is A Flatbed Truck?

What Is A Flatbed Truck?

Few vehicles can rival flatbed trucks when it comes to transporting oversized or irregular-shaped items. But let’s stop and wonder for a bit – what is a flatbed truck, exactly? These large vehicles have a unique design among trucks, with a flat body and no sides or roof around the bed.

If you’re thinking about hiring a flatbed truck but first want to learn more about this vehicle, this article is for you. Keep reading as we dive into the definition of flatbeds and their use, as well as explore the different types.

What Is A Flatbed Truck?

Flatbed Carrying Other Trucks

A flatbed truck is a large truck with an open-top trailer. Unlike traditional trucks, these vehicles have no sides or roofs and tend to feature a bed made of steel. Flatbeds are frequently used to transport heavy loads that can’t be damaged by inclement weather. Their unique design makes them ideal for loads with unconventional shapes or cargo too large for a truck with an enclosed body to carry.

The flatbed truck is between 8 and 10 feet (2.4 and 3 metres) wide on average and has a length of between 18 and 48 feet (5.5 and 14.6 metres). The average weight capacity of these trucks varies but the largest ones have a gross weight of 44,000 kg (44 tonnes).

See our blog post for insight into a 7.5-tonne truck capacity.

Types Of Flatbed Trailers

It’s important to keep in mind that not all flatbed trucks are the same. These heavy goods vehicles are available in a wide variety of styles to suit different needs.


The standard flatbed is the most common version of the truck. It’s a versatile cargo carrier suitable for moving a wide range of loads, such as large machinery, furniture, containers and lumber. A standard flatbed features the regular open-bed design without sides or a roof, which makes loading and unloading pretty seamless. It usually also has ramps, a rack and stake pockets to secure cargo.

Extended Flatbeds

As the name suggests, extended flatbeds have an extra-long bed that extends beyond the length of a standard flatbed. This creates extra room on the trailer to transport extra-large loads. The bed on an extended flatbed sits on top of two drop decks and ramps, making it more accessible for loading and unloading. Like standard trailers, extended flatbeds also feature a rack to secure cargo and prevent damage when transporting loads.

Extendable flatbeds are sometimes called flatbed stretch trailers.


A removable gooseneck, also known as RGN, is one of the most popular types of flatbed trucks today. These trailers come in handy for tall and long loads, as well as for hauling heavy equipment. This truck gets its name from the fact that it has a detachable front end, known as the gooseneck, which allows for easy loading and unloading of heavy machinery. Detaching the removable gooseneck trailer allows it to drop to the ground, turning it into a ramp that you can use to drive heavy machinery.

Stretch Single-Drop Deck

The stretch single-drop deck is another unique trailer used to carry heavy loads. This trailer has a single drop deck with a long stretch between the cab and its rear side. The stretch single-drop deck features loading ramps for effortless loading and unloading, as well as a deck designed close to the ground for improved accessibility.

Double Drop

Unlike the stretch single-drop deck, the double-drop deck flatbed is a type of trailer that has two drop decks. The first deck is close to ground level, while the second is slightly higher up, making it easy to load using ramps. The double-drop trailer is perfect for instances when you want to transport tall loads without worrying about low bridges or headroom restrictions.


The side-kit trailer, also known as a rack or top tarp, is a type of flatbed truck that features a unique bed design installed over a series of panels. Unlike the standard flatbed, it has sides and a top cover made of tarp to offer safe protection from the elements. These trailers are used for hauling loads that need to be protected from inclement weather.

Step Deck

Step Deck Trailer On The Road

A step deck is a type of flatbed truck featuring a bed design where there’s a drop deck lower than the trailer’s main deck. The great thing about the step deck trailer is that it makes it easier to load heavy loads since the loading ramps are ground level.


The lowboy is a unique type of flatbed trailer with a drop deck. Trucks with these kinds of trailers are great for hauling very heavy loads, such as construction equipment, military vehicles and industrial machinery. Lowboy trailers usually feature a deck that lowers in the middle to sit closer to the ground than in a standard drop-deck trailer. This makes cargo loading even easier than in a standard truck.

Iron Bull Dump

Iron Bull dump flatbed trailers are popular for their durability and quality. These trailers, from Norstar Company, are designed for heavy-duty hauling. They’re made from high-quality materials, allowing them to accommodate cargo for construction, landscaping and agriculture. The Iron Bull trailer is a top choice among professionals who prioritise efficiency.

While flatbed trucks are versatile, nothing beats the efficiency of tipper trucks when it comes to transporting loose material.

Skirted Flatbed

The skirted flatbed is a small flatbed truck devised for durability. This work truck serves many farmers and companies looking to transport construction materials. It is designed in the form of pickup trucks but features a metal skirt under the bed that houses two integrated storage boxes on either side.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Flatbed Truck

Now that we have a good understanding of the types of flatbeds, let’s proceed to the pros and cons of using these trucks.


Here are the most appealing benefits of a flatbed truck:

  • Versatility: The flatbed is incredibly versatile. The open bed design makes this vehicle suitable for carrying a wide range of materials. These vehicles also typically have a high capacity, allowing them to transport heavy loads.
  • Easy Loading & Unloading: With no sides or roof obstructing, loading and unloading cargo onto a flatbed truck is as easy as can be. Some feature taillifts to make the job easier.
  • Customisation: Flatbed trucks can easily be customised with additional features to suit specific transportation needs. For example, you can add a ramp for loading or tarps to protect cargo.


For the drawbacks of using a flatbed, here’s what you should know:

  • Exposure to Weather Elements: Because of the absence of sides and a roof in flatbed trucks, cargo is exposed to weather elements, such as rain, snow and wind. Long-term, the elements can damage or degrade these items.
  • Security Concerns: The open cargo area on a flatbed trailer makes the flatbed vulnerable to theft and vandalism.

Common Uses Of Flatbed Trucks

Front View Of A Long Red Flatbed

The use of flatbeds extends to various industries. Some of the instances where this vehicle can be useful include:

  • Construction: The flatbed is commonly used to transport large building materials such as lumber, steel beams, pipes and even machinery.
  • Irregular Shaped Cargo: The flatbed is the perfect vehicle for transporting irregularly shaped items. The absence of walls on the vehicle allows it to accommodate material that won’t fit in enclosed trucks.
  • Automotive Industry: Vehicle rental companies and dealerships may use the flatbed to transport cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles.
  • Oil and Gas Industry: The flatbed truck comes in handy for transporting machinery and materials for oil and gas exploration, such as drilling equipment and pipelines.
  • Agriculture: Farmers can use the flatbed to transport everything from livestock and bales of hay to farming equipment and agricultural products.
  • Freight Transport: Flatbed trucks are just perfect for carrying palletised goods, large crates, shipping containers and other bulky items that require open access for loading and unloading.

Safety Considerations When Using A Flatbed Truck

As with other vehicles used to transport heavy loads, there are risks associated with using flatbeds. Keep the following points in mind to ensure safety with these types of trucks:

  • Secure Load: The most important thing is to ensure that cargo is properly secured. Heavy loads are prone to shifting or falling during transit, so use appropriate straps and chains to keep them in place.
  • Weight Distribution: Take care to make sure you distribute weight evenly across the flatbed. Rather than placing heavy loads on one side, place them in the middle to help prevent potential tipping.
  • Inspections: Check the vehicle before and after the trip for any signs of damage or malfunction, especially when it comes to safety straps and other securing equipment.
  • Avoid Overloading: This goes without saying—overloading can put you at risk on the road and increase wear on the vehicle. Whether it’s a standard drop deck or double drop trailers, stay within the weight limit of the vehicle.

SDVH offers 18-tonne truck hire, so contact us today to hire one and safely transport cargo for your business. Our 26-tonne units for hire are also available when you need an even larger capacity.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is called a flatbed truck because of its flat, level bed with no sides or roof. The flatbed design of this truck provides a good surface for loading and transporting various heavy loads. Due to the absence of walls, irregularly shaped items, like building and agriculture materials, can easily fit into the truck.

The maximum weight a flatbed truck can carry is 26,000 kg (26 tonnes). Flatbeds generally have different weight capacities and the exact weight limit will depend on the truck size. Smaller flatbeds like the Skirted Truck are designed for less-demanding tasks but some others can carry much more. Be sure to check the weight capacity before loading it up.

You need a category C1 or C licence to drive a flatbed truck. The C1 licence permits you to drive vehicles up to 7,500 kg (7.5 tonnes), while the C licence applies to anyone who plans to drive a vehicle that exceeds this limit. In addition to the correct licence, you also need an operator’s licence if you’re transporting goods for commercial purposes.

Yes, flatbed trucks can be used for long-distance haulage. In fact, these vehicles are built just for that. They can transport heavy loads over long distances safely. You just need to safely secure the load to the trailer and ensure you don’t exceed the vehicle’s weight limit. Also, long hours on the road can take a toll on you, so ensure the cabin of the truck is comfy.

Construction, manufacturing, agriculture and the oil and gas industries commonly use flatbed trucks. Flatbeds are crucial for transportation in various industries because they can transport a wide range of materials and equipment safely. In addition to these industries, landscapers and utility companies may also require the services of a flatbed truck.


So, what is a flatbed truck? This special vehicle offers utility like no other. With an open-head and wall-free design, it can transport the most unusual types of cargo safely. If you’ve been thinking about hiring a flatbed, with the endless transportation possibilities this vehicle offers, you now have more reasons to do so.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call Now